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Liz Lange is back to her old self.
The designer, known best for her line of fashionable maternity clothes, closed the high-end portion of her business about one year ago in order to reassess under new owners, the New York-based Zoomers Inc. At that time, and after 10 years in business, Lange shuttered her three freestanding stores in Manhattan, Greenvale, N.Y., and Beverly Hills. The designer’s mass line, which has been selling exclusively at Target stores for six years, has continued to sell well, she said.
Now she is back with the relaunch of her high-end line, Liz Lange Collection. While Lange said she has no plans to open another retail location of her own, the relaunched collection is open for wholesale and will ship to stores in January for spring selling.
“I loved being in retail at the time,” Lange said. “But I really only opened a store in the first place because no one would sell maternity in their stores at the time, so I said I would do it myself and go right to my customer. Of course now, with everything that’s going on in this economy, I’m glad to be out of it.”
Lange said she plans to focus her attention entirely on her wholesale business and will probably not get back into retail. First, she is relaunching the maternity line, which includes “everything a pregnant woman needs in her life,” from black-tie appropriate dresses to casual jeans and tops for weekend.
“One thing I was never able to do before I sold my company was to have my own line of jeans,” Lange said. “It was always something I wanted to do, but I just didn’t have the ability.”
The relaunched collection now includes seven jeans styles — including straight leg, wide leg, boot cut and skinny. Each pair of jeans is made with a hidden elastic waistband and stretch denim fabric — no belly panel needed.
“I always hated the panel. That’s always been my thing,” Lange said. “The idea is to make great fashion for women who happen to be pregnant. No one wants to have a panel in their clothes, so we just used comfortable, soft, forgiving stretch fabrics.”
In addition to denim, the new line includes dresses for day and night, silk printed blouses, twill coats and jackets, skirts and pants and cotton cashmere sweaters. For spring, the color palette includes basic gray, navy, tan, black and white as well as bright yellow, pink, melon, aqua and purple. All fabrics are from Italy and Japan with manufacturing done in Asia — except for the denim, which is made in California.
Aiming to distribute in about 100 specialty stores, the new line will sell for about 20 percent less than it did a year ago. The collection now wholesales between $27.50 for a layering tank to $125 for a silk chiffon printed maxi dress. The jeans all wholesale for $75 a pair. Lange said she expects the collection to bring in about $10 million in wholesale volume in its first year back at retail.
The designer also plans to launch a line of baby-friendly handbags for spring. Made from canvas and leather, the bags are made with interior bottle holders, changing pads and diaper holders, all of which snap out so a woman can use the bag once she no longer needs it as a diaper bag. The bags will wholesale between $125 and $250.
In addition, Lange said she is working on a line of baby clothes, which will launch for summer selling. She is also in the beginning stages of working on a ready-to-wear line, a jewelry collection and a line of beauty products. And she’s writing two books — one on how to bounce back after the baby is born and another on how to launch a business.